Chartwell exhibition: Clementine Churchill - Speaking for herself
This article is for the 2018 Chartwell exhibition. Please see our website for up to date information.
‘Speaking for herself’ uncovers incredible stories from her life; from her difficult upbringing to her interests and hobbies. Her life with Winston and their family to her troublesome relationship with Chartwell – the home she would reluctantly call her own for half a century, never quite sharing her husband’s love of the place.
Clementine was the love of Winston Churchill’s life, and he himself would go on to say "My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” - but why would a man who achieved so much over the 90 years of his very full life credit this as the pinnacle of his triumphs?
The reason for this goes beyond her beauty, elegance and style, and is acknowledgement of just how vital she was to sustaining him and his life’s work.
" What a comfort & pleasure it was to me to meet a girl with so much intellectual quality & such strong reserves of noble sentiment"
Love and romance
When Clementine Churchill agreed to marry Winston, she was just 23 but it was already her third engagement. What made Winston different from her two previous suitors was that, for the first time, she fell madly in love.
The day after his proposal she wrote girlishly to him ‘Je t'aime passionément [sic] – I feel less shy in French.’
For Winston, as well as her statuesque beauty, he was drawn to her character. He revelled in the unexpected pleasure of meeting ‘a girl of so much intellectual quality & such strong reserves of noble sentiment’.
At the age of 30 he had found a woman he could really respect and work with as a team to achieve his ambitions. It was to this end that she would devote more than half a century of her life.
A passion for helping others
Clementine Churchill was Winston’s champion, confidante and advisor throughout all the years of their marriage, but she was also a remarkable woman in her own right.
During the First World War she ran canteens feeding thousands of munitions workers. In the Second World War she risked her own safety by signing up to be a fire-watcher.
In addition to this she championed numerous causes. She was Chairman of the Fulmer Chase Maternity Hospital who cared for expecting wives-of-officers whilst their husbands were away at war. She also headed up a fundraising campaign raising millions of pounds for the Aid to Russia Fund.
For these and numerous other achievements she was awarded countless honours. Clementine was made a peeress in her own right after Winston passed away, taking on the title Baroness Spencer-Churchill of Chartwell.
Visit ‘Speaking for herself’ and learn more about one of the most important partnerships in history; that of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Discover how beyond that, without her strength, courage and resolve, the history of the world would have been a very different story.
Sat 18 Nov - Sun 23 Feb, 11am-3pm (The house is closed during this period to allow our staff to carry out the winter deep clean and conservation work).
Sat 24 Feb - Sun 28 Oct, 10am-5pm
Admission and accessibility
National Trust members receive free entry to all areas of the property.
Non-members will need to pay admission to the gardens & studio to see the exhibition. More details on our prices can be found here.
We regret the exhibition is not accessible by wheelchair.
Assistant dogs only in the exhibition please. Dogs on short leads are welcome in the gardens and wider estate.